This is so good! From Proverbs 31 Ministries.com :
September 7, 2007
Be Devoted: by Glynnis Whitwer
"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."
Romans 12:10 (NIV)
She walked into church on a dreary Sunday morning, her heart as dark as the gathering storm. She'd gotten into a fight with her husband just before leaving home, and in an angry, regrettable moment, stormed off without him. She found herself sitting alone, thinking she didn't belong there.
He'd gotten laid off at work on Friday. No notice. No final paycheck. Just a "get your things and get going" announcement. He hadn't told anyone yet; it was just too embarrassing. What was he going to do? How would he pay his rent? Were his employers right? Maybe he just couldn't cut it. He'd come to church that day because there was nowhere else to go.
Look around you at any church service and you'll see normal looking people. Their lives must be great, you think. They walk in with a smile and out with a smile. All the while, many of them are dying by increments on the inside. Despair, fear, anger, questions. Is this all there is? Does anybody care?
Our churches are filled with hurting people, carelessly tossed aside by someone during the week. Their hearts and minds reverberate with echoes of angry words spoken to them and unkind actions done to them. They walk into our churches and small groups with a filament of hope and a last-ditch prayer. What will they find?
Jesus saw beneath the surface of the plastic smiles, and stopped what He was doing to show people honor and respect. It wasn't Jesus' well-manicured conversations that did it; He didn't seem to be a master of small talk. Reading about Jesus' interactions with people, we find He got to the heart of the matter very quickly. Jesus' compassion must have radiated from Him because it didn't take long for people to open their pain-filled hearts. When they did, Jesus introduced God's healing love. ( I LOVE that part!!)
What does this mean for us? Can we really love others like Jesus did? Can our churches and small groups reflect the life-altering community of God's intent? Can we really make a difference to the "walking wounded" sitting next to us in church every week? ( I can attest that our church EXCELS at this; Thank You God!! And thanks to you all for all you do, in your churches, all around the country to care for God's people! There are rewards in Heaven for all of your sacrifice and hard work!)
I think one of the ways we can get past surface relationships with others is found in Paul's letter to the Romans, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." This passage calls us past the neighbor level, past the acquaintance level, past the "just friends" level, and up to familial devotion. It calls us to look at those around us and consider how we can honor them with our time and attention, as we would our brother or sister.
This isn't easy in our busy lives. Yet this Scripture holds the promise of the creation of a loving family of believers here on earth - a family that values and honors each other. That sounds like a place I want to spend the rest of my life creating. I guess I'll need to spend a little more time with the woman sitting next to me this Sunday.
Heavenly Father, I praise You and thank You for loving me just as I am. But I need help to love my Christian brothers and sisters just like they are. Help me to love like You love. Examine me and show me areas that need Your attention. I long to have the heart of Christ for others. In Jesus name, Amen. AMEN!!